Know your farmer, know your food

Chandler Holland purchases strawberries from the Little Creek Vineyard & Music booth at the Saturdays in Saxapahaw Farmers Market. / Michael Holland, Special to the Times-News

Commentary by Chandler Holland
Times-News correspondent
teens20@thetimesnews.com

   With summer almost here, local farmers markets are in full swing. We are fortunate to have so many nearby, with easy access to healthy, seasonal produce. With the amazing variety of fruits and vegetables at your fingertips, it can be difficult to pick out what you want for supper.
Salads are a natural choice that takes advantage of the wonderful bounty of the season. Salads can be so much more interesting than simply lettuce. By adding a rainbow of seasonal produce, humble lettuce can be raised up to become the centerpiece of the perfect meal for a hot summer evening.
Get to know your food better by getting to know your farmer. A list of local farmers markets can be found each Wednesday in the Times-News Food section. To help you learn about what’s in season, here in Alamance County, the following resources may be helpful: What’s in Season? North Carolina Fruit and Vegetable Availability Chart, www.NCagr.gov/markets/availabilitychart.pdf and 10 Percent Campaign: Building North Carolina’s Local Food Economy, www.NCtenpercent.com.

 Chopped Seasonal Salad with Roasted Beets and Strawberries

 4 large beets of any variety, golden beets are a good choice
1 tablespoon organic olive oil
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
12 to 14 large ripe strawberries
1 cup nuts, pecans, walnuts or slivered almonds
10 to 12 ounces of greens — arugula, romaine, spinach or other flavorful varieties

   Scrub and peel beets. Toss them in olive oil, lightly sprinkle with salt and roast in an oven at 350 degrees F. until tender, about 35 minutes. When beets are cool, cut into bite-size pieces and place in mixing bowl. Add nuts and cored, quartered and well-rinsed strawberries. Mix gently until fully combined. Coarsely chop greens, add to mixing bowl and toss well. Dressing and optional crumbled cheese should be added after the salad is plated.

Dressing:

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Dijon or other hearty mustard
½ cup tarragon vinegar
1 cup good quality, organic olive oil

    Whisk together honey and mustard, and then add the vinegar. Once vinegar is fully incorporated, gently add the oil. Adding the oil slowly will help the emulsion stay unbroken. Makes 4 large servings.
Cook’s notes: This recipe is flexible and can easily incorporate the addition of a variety of fresh, uncooked, unpeeled seasonal fruits and vegetables washed and cut into bite-size pieces. These include green beans, bell peppers, green peas, cucumbers, broccoli, mushrooms, grape tomatoes, green (spring) onions, blueberries and raspberries. Half a cup of crumbled local goat cheese may also be added.

 Chandler Holland is a sophomore home-schooler and a Teens & Twenties writer. She is an intern at C’est si Bon! Cooking School, and co-teaches the Kitchen Capers kid’s cooking classes at Alamance Arts.

 

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